Synchronicity or Happenstance? A Quick Contest for All My “Black Dahlia Armchair Detectives” Out There-Winner Gets a Free Book of Their Choice

April 21, 2020
Los Angeles, California
I was going through some boxes from storage yesterday and came across a box of  LAPD Retirement goodies.  Hard to believe its been thirty-four years, but there you have it.
Back then, and I assume it continues through this day, most officers had a “retirement party” gathered for food and drink with their former partners and to say “goodbye.”
I was no exception and mine was held on  August 1st, 1986.   The Department artist usually prepared a “retirement poster” announcing the time and place.
First out of the storage box was that announcement:

Retirement party held at Griffith Park Ranger’s Station August 1, 1986
A beautiful summer evening.  Good food, dancing, old “war stories” shared and the usual goodbye gifts and plaques handed out.  Here are a few of them:

The coolest of all of the retirement gifts was the traditional “Shadow Box” made up of the officer’s personal on-the-job gear. His or her handcuffs, handcuff keys, uniform buttons, nameplate, cap piece, call box key, whistle, dates of years of service, and in my case a prized “Detective Gold Card” which is only given to officers who had served a minimum of ten-years in the Detective Bureau. (I easily qualified after serving six-years in uniform patrol, I spent the next 17-years as a detective.)

LAPD Detective Gold Card

A Quick Contest

OK, here’s the deal for all you armchair detectives hip to all the details related to my Elizabeth Short, Black Dahlia Investigation, through the decades.

Somewhere above hidden in plain sight is a “clew” that synchronistically links directly to my investigation.  The first one to find and identify it and emails me the answer  ( wins the “Inspector Clouseau Award, and a free/personalized book of their choosing. (BDA I, II, III, Most Evil I or II, In The Mesquite, or The China Years.)

Good Hunting!


And the winner IS:  LUIGI WARREN of Pasadena, California. 

Luigi, after an early misstep, then countered quickly with a hard right to the chin and sent in the correct answer. A quick knock out in Round 1 at 10:54 AM.
His answer, “I got it.  July 29 (your retirement date) was Elizabeth Short’s DOB. (Date of Birth).”  

Congratulations the “Inspector Clouseau Award” goes to Mssr. Warren with a record time.  LW, let me know by email, which book you would like, along with a snail mail address and I will personalize and send it to whomever you choose.  
 SKH Note-   Incredibly and take your choice either (Happenstance at 364 to 1 odds) or by some strange synchronicity, the formal official date of my retirement (not chosen by me, my only request was “by the end of the month.”) was in fact, JULY 29th.  As LW (aka Insp. Clouseau) correctly observed this was Elizabeth “Black Dahlia” Short’s birthday. To compound it further, July 29th was ALSO the birthdate of Detective Finis Brown, the primary LAPD detective assigned to investigate her murder.  It would not be until thirteen years after my retirement, in 1999, that I would learn that my father knew the victim, and begin my investigation to clear his name from any suspicions of being “the suspect” and another three years after that before I submitted my findings to the LA Head DDA Stephen Kay, proving he was in fact, her killer. (Cue the Twilight Zone introduction.)  

Winner’s Choice:

Luigi Warren has selected  A GENIUS FOR MURDER: A Historical Dramatization in Three Acts. Again, my congrats it’s in the mail.
“George Hodel, I think, is fit company for some of Noir’s most civilized villains–like Waldo Lydecker in “Laura,” Harry Lime in “The Third Man” or even Noah Cross in “Chinatown,” the man who (thanks to the screenwriter, Robert Towne) warned us, “Most people never have to face the fact that at the right time and right place, they’re capable of, anything.” And what had Cross done? Rape his daughter, and his city, and lived into old age.”

David Thomson
New York Times Book Review excerpt on
Black Dahlia Avenger


  1. Luigi Warren on April 21, 2020 at 1:47 pm

    Steve: You said “synchronistically” so I don’t suppose this is it, but I see a biography of Dr. Albert Schweitzer in the book shelf. WIlliam Copley’s “It is midnight, Dr. —,” depicting GHH as the Black Dahlia killer, likely makes sardonic reference to “It is midnight, Dr. Schweitzer,” a book, play and movie about the famous physician and humanitarian. -LW

    • Steve Hodel on April 21, 2020 at 1:51 pm

      LW: Nice try Luigi. I like the way your mind works, but NO CIGAR this time. Steve

  2. Jennifer Swan on April 21, 2020 at 10:42 pm

    I was going to say one of the books on your bookshelf is “Family Secrets”…not like that’s a big clue or anything, but thought it was ironic, lol. Oh well, it was fun trying to guess!

    • Steve Hodel on April 22, 2020 at 12:06 am

      Jennifer S: Good observation. I hadn’t even checked the books.
      Next one I’ll have triple down on, guess this was too easy if it’s solved in an hour.

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